The room is small, the size of a student bedsit. An enormous grey sofa takes up most of the space. Someone has thought very carefully about not placing it alongside the wall, so it sits at an angle to it, taking up even more space, almost on top of you as soon as you walk in. This is on the right side. To the left are two smaller armchairs, one in the corner facing away from the door, the other pointing towards the sofa. Between the chairs is a small table with a box of tissues on top of it. In the tight angle between the sofa and the armchair is another table, also with tissues.

Above the sofa are three shelves. These are fixed to the wall with movable runners, but it looks like they have never been moved.

Across the surface of each shelf at careful intervals, are objects of significance. A clock, thick, artisan candles, vases which shrink to flowers with a single stem. On the wall opposite is a framed poster of more flowers, an Impressionist classic.

The walls are beige.

We are cuddling on the sofa when Jörn bounds in to join us.

He fills the whole room, his legs and arms refusing to be still as he talks us through the next steps of treatment. He mentions something called a hickman line. I am to have one fitted tomorrow. ‘You won’t be under, well, not completely, more like a triple Scotch under. You’ll enjoy it,’ he says.

‘What about you, what do you do?’ we say.

‘I find a bottle of vodka and an evening of speed metal usually does the trick. Then move on. Deal with it.’

We nod.

‘I’m not saying…’ He stops suddenly, catching himself saying what he doesn’t want to tell us. ‘I’m not. It’s not over, Tony. We never say that. Never. It’s just a bit shit, that’s all. You need to look at what you have. Your family. Your life. Then look at the shit. The shit is not you. You are you. Your family. That’s what you have. That. Nothing else matters. Not really.’

He catches himself again and looks at us with a grin.

‘What about Nigeria for the World Cup, eh? I’ve got them in the staff sweepstake. Even bought the shirt.’

‘Who did these curtains?’ my wife says. ‘They’re appalling.’

‘Good woman,’ Jörn says. ‘I said they were shit the day they put them up. Not that they listened of course.’


    1. Thank you so much for saying so.
      Those shelves. They used to bother me a bit.
      I’m so pleased you found something here which tallies with your experience.
      With best wishes and thanks


    1. Thank you so much for saying so.
      I love your blog by the way -so important and necessary- and have / am sharing/shared with my Primary PGCE students.
      With good wishes


      1. Thank you, Anthony! That’s lovely to hear. I aim to make it as responsive to suggestion and reader needs as possible so if you/your students ever want to share ideas/make requests, the contact details are on the blog.
        Poetry and health/illness is a topic close to my heart – so glad I found your blog. Hope the sun is shining with you this Monday morning!
        All best wishes,


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